The Legion of Honor Museum, part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, seems to have a great collection of Fine french bindings. A 2013 exhibition, The Book and the Binding, was under my radar. Is there even a catalog? I don't know. It's too bad because some of the works below are exquisite, imposing, and trippy. I wonder the extent of their collection. Here are some works, most of which appear to have been a part of the exhibition.
The first, a Paul Bonet binding, is the cover image for the exhibition, and a beautiful piece. Rather deco, eh, and to great effect. Lively color and gold peek through dark skyscraper-lookin' elements, and of course the inlays and tooling are precise.
A tasteful binding with some subtle flair. An edition designed and published by the multi-talented artist François-Louis Schmied. Binding looks like to be for the edition, and not one-of-a-kind bespoke.
A few bindings by Henri Creuzevault, whose bindings do very well in the marketplace. Very decorative but not in a traditional way at all - I mean it looks trippy to me. I am a big fan of his work but these two don't strike me down on the spot like others he's done. I wish I could see the spines better -- seems like large and bold tooling or single-color onlays in italic.
I can't resist this elegant yet simple paper cover by Matisse. It looks like the white lines not printed, but the areas that were NOT printed... The blue ground is not a ground at all -- it was the area that was printed. It can be hard to print large areas of one color evenly from blocks, but what we have is nicely done and very beautiful. Printed by Féquet et Baudier, who we shall see again.
Published by Atelier Crommelynck -- and printed by Marthe Fequet and Pierre Baudier just like the one above -- this is a sharp, serious, and subtle binding on a volume with artwork by Picassso. Parchment certainly contributes to this effect. This is probably the binding for the entire edition (not bespoke).
I'm unsure who to credit for the following binding. Too bad! It seems there's a fair amount of gold on the spine and edges, which would complement the snake skin and the colors very well.
The first of a few by George Leroux. This one might not look it, but is actually suede! To me it did not seem so from first glance. I love white suede, and the dots and pattern are fantastic.
Leroux on Picasso. Clean, using a contemporary calf material with more gloss and less pores than more traditional goat skin. I'd say it's successful for sure. But after seeing Luigi Castiglioni's presentation of his FANTASTIC new binding on a Picasso, it's hard to compare :)
A third binding of George Leroux below, from 1981. Rather serious, but not unsuccessful. I imagine that the text and artwork inside the binding relates to the onlayed parchment skin on the front... but would be interested to learn more about it.